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Earlier this year the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education conducted a national search for a visionary leader who could lead the district. At the end of the process they hired Dr. Heath Morrison.

Morrison began the job this spring with one promise – to listen. He asked the community to give him 100 days to evaluate the district’s performance on all levels. This listening and evaluating process, he said, would give him the information needed to develop a plan for how to move the district forward.

For the past 3 months Morrison has done just that. He commissioned internal audits and held community forms to gather the necessary information. On Monday night he presented how the things he learned from these activities would be used to move the district forward.

The Way Forward

During his 100-day evaluation period Morrison said he learned several things, including:

– CMS has a strong focus on student achievement, but there is room for improvement in many areas. Morrison believes there is a need for more thought in how CMS educates to provide a high-quality diploma, decreases the technology lag and increases cultural proficiency.

– There is work to be accomplished regarding internal culture. In many ways CMS has become very compliant, says Morrison. There needs to be a culture to support innovation and creativity.

– CMS needs to work on building public trust. While the district has a great national reputation, their local reputation isn’t as perfect, said Morrison.

To address these, and the other challenges, Morrison presented an eight-point plan – The Way Forward. According to Morrison, this plan will help CMS complete the journey from good to great. It is the beginning of a district-wide conversation about how to strengthen CMS and its schools. Many of the goals focus on developing innovative ways to educate and moving in partnership with the parents and community to create a school system that meets the needs of families and students.

The eight goals presented in the plan are:

Goal 1: Accelerate academic achievement for every child and close achievement gaps so all students graduate from CMS college- or career-ready.

Goal 2: Ensure an effective teacher in every class is led by an effective principal in every school served by quality support staff, by supporting the professional development of all employees.

Goal 3: Cultivate innovative partnerships with parents/caregivers and the community to provide a sustainable system of wraparound support for all children.

Goal 4: Continuously nurture a self-renewing culture of high engagement, customer service and cultural competency.

Goal 5: Establish a comprehensive performance-management approach that ensures data-informed and evidence-based decision-making for students, schools and the district as a whole.

Goal 6: Strengthen and expand our portfolio of educational choices for students to foster creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Goal 7: Increase technology integration to support inspired learning and teaching.

Goal 8: Communicate proactively and purposefully to strengthen public trust and establish CMS as the preferred K-12 choice.

To help us find the best ways to achieve these goals, CMS will convene 22 task forces to include CMS employees and members of the public. Each task force will look at one component of a goal and the best way to achieve it.

The 22 task forces will have a CMS lead and a community lead. The task forces are:

Extended Learning Opportunities

Early Childhood

African-American Males

LEP Students

Special Education

Gifted Students

College and Career Readiness/Reverse Engineering Pathways for Success

Closing the Achievement Gap

Professional Growth System


Parent Engagement and Involvement

Proactive Community and Faith Partnerships

CMS Foundation

Culture, Engagement and Shared Values

Cultural Competence Framework

Accountability Framework

Process and System Improvement

Choice, Alternatives and Magnets

Higher Ed Partnerships

Technology and Blended Learning

Public Trust, Marketing and Branding

Time, Capital and Resource Management

Read more about Morrison’s plan.